SUFFOCATION – Hymns From The Apocrypha

SUFFOCATION – Hymns From The Apocrypha



While I never considered this fundamental death metal act my favorite (that would be Death and old Obituary) as they are very inconsistent, I do think Suffocation’s first incarnation, featuring Terraine “Terrance” D. Hobbs, Sr. (guitars), Francis “Frank” Eugene Mullen (vocals) and Guy W. Marchais (guitars), was flawless from Effigy Of The Forgotten¹⁹⁹¹ through the horribly produced Breeding The Spawn¹⁹⁹³ and finally the last perfect album Pierced From Within¹⁹⁹⁵ before the break up in 1998. The so-so Souls To Deny²⁰⁰⁴, their first post-reunion album, was not up to par with their past accomplishments, which is why the follow-up, simply and purposely just named Suffocation²⁰⁰⁶, was great as were the subsequent Blood Oath²⁰⁰⁹ and Pinnacle Of Bedlam²⁰¹³. And then Frank Mullen said he’d had enough of Suffocation and wanted to leave for good but agreed to stay for a final album. Of The Dark Light²⁰¹⁷, which I reviewed here (3.5/6) was a far cry from the once great and groundbreaking Suffocation, often just by-the-numbers while, admittedly, still technically proficient, howbeit, with the disappointing ho-hum production, Mullen predictably sounding tired and disinterested.

Looking back, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been a better idea to just let Mullen go prior to recording The Dark Light²⁰¹⁷ because, now vocalized by Digorge’s only remaining original member Ricky Myers, Suffocation definitely upped the ante with Hymns From The Apocrypha²⁰²³ released on November 3rd via Nuclear Blast Records. Not only is the production finally sufficiently powerful while clear like Morbid Angel’s Domination¹⁹⁹⁵ but so are Myers’ vocals, now David Vincent, now Mike Hrubovcak (ex-Monstrosity) now Ross Dolan (Immolation). When it comes to songwriting, most songs are worth the final score but 3 stand out from the pack. The sprawling opening title track is so varied and catchy it made me think of the first 3 albums, as Morbid Angelic rhythm, Immolation riffs and even Anata melodies all conspire to prove that Suffocation is back and seemingly better than at any time after 2002, but things won’t get interesting again until “Immortal Execration”, with its Gateways To Annihilation²⁰⁰⁰ Morbid Angelic repetitive riff and Zos Kia Cultus²⁰⁰² Behemothian melodiscism cooked on Meshuggahic oil and then even more with the Ulcerate meets Hate Eternal at a Carcassian barbeque (and is that Prong from Prove You Wrong¹⁹⁹¹ I briefly hear?), all of which are spread apart. The remaining 6 songs (if you don’t count the re-recorded “Ignorant Deprivation” from Breeding The Spawn¹⁹⁹³) are good but nothing that makes me want to run to the store and purchase a copy of Hymns From The Apocrypha²⁰²³ for every member of my family ages 7 and above, their most obvious flaw is spurious melody and lack of truly memorable moments, plus, when the former or the latter briefly appears it gets quickly put out as if Suffocation was terrified of the prospect of being mistaken for 90s Megadeth. The fact that the aforementioned “Ignorant Deprivation”, written 30 years ago, is easily the best track on the album speaks volumes.

Overall, a solid effort and a sure sign Suffocation have begun to climb out of the mediocre hole they had fallen in with the predecessor but they need to recall how to write truly memorable songs on a consistent basis while not being so serious about sounding like the most chaotic, technical, brutal yet almost unlistenable band in the world, that last one I sure hope not their current raison d‘etre.

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